tv FOX News Reporting Charles Krauthammer -- A Life That Matters FOX News December 25, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm PST
bush spending the day in the hospital. bush senior suffered from a form of parkinson's disease. he is the oldest living former american president. pope francis told a crowd in st. peter's square said he's praying for the families of the students. >> i ask for the savior of the world, and together with those obama to other ethnic and religious groups are suffering a beautiful persecution. truly there are so many tears this christmas, together with the tears of jesus. >> most of his christmas message
spoke on poor countries and he is praying for an end to harden hearts and indeference. check out this video of a big solar flare. it's a powerful burst of radiation, and nasa says we're safe because the radiation can't pass through the atmosphere, but it can disturb part of the gps. you are watching the most powerful name in news, fox news channel. this hour, when he talks, washington listens. charles krauthammer. his journey, how he overcame a
devastating accident, a life that matters. hello, i am bret baier. i hope you will enjoy watching this fox news reporting special as much as we enjoyed making it. fox viewers know where charles krauthammer sits on the panel, but we bet there's a lot you don't know about the all-star panelist, and harvard-trained psychiatrist and even an occasional baseball analyst. we think you should, even if the doctor has a different opinion. you were a little regular tphau supbt about this. >> i don't like it. >> i have been trying to convince charles krauthammer to sit for an interview for sometime, and not one where he shares his thoughts on the news for the day, but one where he
pulls back the curtain and reveals beyond the extraordinary writer and influential thinker, the life of an intensely private man. >> when i say i don't like it, i am not adverse of the spotlight and i am not going to pretend something that is on tv every night doesn't enjoy it. >> more disclosure. charles krauthammer is a colleague and friend. but he only agreed to cooperate on a fox news reporting profile reluctantly, as part of the publicity campaign, for, yes a. new book. "things that matter" is not a kiss and tell, it's a collection of newspaper and magazine clips. >> it's all written.
hieroglyphics. >> let's start with part one. it is titled personal. in there, the first column is an incredibly moving piece about your brother. he died of cancer, he was 59. charles writes this about his older brother. quote, he taught me most everything i ever learned about every sport i ever played. he taught me how to throw a football, hit a back hand, grip a nine-iron, field a grounder, dock a sailboat in the tailing wind and how we play. it was paradise. tell me about that. >> it was a good childhood. my brother and i were inseparable. that's why it is a priceless gift. he always insisted i be included. i got used to being around the big boys that's how you get toughened up. my parents were from europe. he was american, my brother.
born in brazil, but that's a long story. american. he made me an american. >> that long story, short. his father was a real estate developer from a province of ukraine, both jews who left world war ii-year-old. they moved to rio and eventually was born in 1950. when he was 5, the krauthammer's moved to montreal, but spent summers in long beach, new york. charles spent every day with his brother on the field, on the court or in the water. >> i don't think i owned a shirt until i was 21. all the pictures of family movies, my father is shirtless, my brother is shirtless. i read on the beach. that's where i got i knowledge, reading. >> of course there was reading and studying.
he carried his son's stellar second grade report card in his coat pocket. >> his motto for us was, i want you to know everything and learn everything. you don't have to do everything, but you need to know everything. >> that life did not include a tv, says the cable news pundit. >> my father wouldn't allow it. once a week, sunday night we would go to the neighbors to watch "the ed sullivan show." >> inspired by doctors, marcel went to medical school. it was assumed charles would follow. as a 19-year-old senior, the renowned canadian university, he was bitten by a different bug. political journalism. >> campus intrigue. the editorship of the newspaper had to deal with the student council. i had been elected student council. the paper was unreadable.
so, we engineered it. then we sort of realized, well, what do we do now? we have to find an editor. they looked around and decided it's going to be me. wait, i have never worked on a paper. ah, a detail. >> he loved thinking and writing about all things political. he applied to medical school to please his family and got accepted to harvard. he got into oxford as well to study political theory. would he choose a life of science or letters? he had enviable options. he hadn't decided what mattered to him. he put off harvard and enrolled in another school. a clerk to the chief justice of
her home state supreme court. so much would change in the three years between when they met and married. beginning with his sudden decision to leave england. >> i had this little apif mee of sorts. i learned a lot. i began to feel i was spinning at the university. i called the registrar at harvard medical school and said i would like to come in. i remember her saying one guy dropped out. we have a spot. if you are here monday, it's yours. i grabbed a toothbrush and i didn't pack. i got on a plane and left. that's how i decided to become a doctor. >> why did you choose there? >> i was looking for something half way between the reality of medicine and the elegance, if you like, of philosophy. psychiatry was the obvious thing.
that was my intention from the first day. i was lucky because it was probably the easiest branch of medicine for me to do once i was hurt. >> hurt. that doesn't begin to describe it. when did you realize the accident was life altering? >> the second it happened. >> after the break. okay, call me crazy,
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welcome back. fox news reporting. so far, you have met the young charles krauthammer, harvard medicine, class of '75. his life seemed to be going according to plan. then, no life ever really does. this snapshot was taken in may, 1972. it shows a strapping, 6'1", charles krauthammer standing on the beach. it's the confident smile of a young man well on his way to making it.
smart. athletic. handsome. driven. the future? all his. >> that was spring break, my first year of medical school. i went with friends to bermuda. that was the last picture taken of me standing. i didn't know at the time. i saw one of my friends with a camera. at the top of the dune, i stood there for a picture, thought nothing of it until i discovered it years later laying in a box and remembering it was a fateful puckture. >> fateful because of what happened at harvard that summer. you were 22 years old. tell me about that day. >> i went out. it was the end of my first year of medical school. we were doing neurology, studying the spinal cord, of all
things. my classmate and i decide to skip the morning session. a beautiful july day. we played tennis, instead. >> after the game, they head back to class for the afternoon session. along the way, they stop at a pool on campus, set down their books and pull off their sneakers. >> very sweaty and hot. we go for a swim, take a few dives and i hit my head on the bottom of the pool. >> a freak accident he says. >> the amazing thing is, it was not even a cut on my head. it hit at precisely the angle where all the force was transmitted to one spot, that is the cervical vertebra that served the spinal cord. >> when did you realize it was life altering? >> i knew when it happened, why i wasn't able to move and what it meant. >> at the bottom of the pool -- >> i wasn't getting out.
i knew. >> he was paralyzed, unable to move his arms or legs. his friends thought he was clowning around and hesitated before diving down to save him. >> was there ever a moment you thought, this is the end? >> well, when i knew what happened and i knew i was at the bottom of the pool and i knew i wouldn't be able to swim, i was sure that was the end. >> do you think back to that day often? >> not really. it doesn't -- i kind of have a distance from it. i see it like, as if it happened in a film. interestingly enough, talk about near death experiences, there was no panic. there was no great emotion. i didn't feel light. my life was not flashed before me. you sort of get to a place where you are ready and then you
suddenly brought back to the world. >> no cosmic revelation as he was rushed to the hospital. he notes the irony of what he left behind. >> there were two books on the side of the pool when they picked up. one was the anatomy of the spinal cord and the other "manage the fate." quite a choice. i didn't know what was coming, but it fit very well. coming up, his fate lay in the balance. what he did next you get sick, you can't breathe through your nose suddenly, you're a mouth breather. a mouth breather! well, put on a breathe right strip and shut your mouth. cold medicines open your nose over time, but add a breathe right strip and pow, it opens your nose up to 38% more. so you can breathe and do the one thing you want to do, sleep. add breathe right to your cold medicine shut your mouth and sleep right. breathe right.
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fateful dive, a terrible injury. there, charles krauthammer lay, in a hospital bed, paralyzed. nothing to do but think. >> i made one promise to myself on day one. i was not going to allow it to alter my life, except in ways which are sort of having to do with gravity. i'm not going to define gravity. i'm not going to walk or water ski again, that's fine. that, you know. on the big things in life, the direction of my life, what i was going to do, that wouldn't change at all. >> he says he never entertained the notion that one day, whether through his own effort or some medical miracle, he would regain full use of his arms and legs. he resigned himself to the cold reality wherever he went in life, he would go in a wheelchair. was it hard? >> i think the physical part was hard, getting -- learning to do
everything again. i have a great capacity for erasing the memory. it seems very short. it was long, but seemed short. >> his teachers and classmates certainly thought he was rushing his decision to resume studies immediately. you never thought of taking a year off or a couple years off? >> i knew that would be fatal. it was not a question. >> while nobody had heard of somebody with his injury standing up to the rigors of a med school curriculum, he convinced harvard to let him try. amazingly, mere weeks after the accident, he resumed classes while still in his hospital bed. >> i was lying on my back, couldn't move. the professors would come in, repeat their lectures on the ceiling. i asked the medical school to let me stay with my class. >> you read by laying on your back? >> one hooked up a plexiglas
plate above my bed. the nurses would put a book on it face down. now, you don't want to call them every minute and a half to turn the page, so i put two books up at once. they would only have to come half the time. >> with such force of will, he graduated on time in 1975 and near the top of his class. along the way, he got the girl, too, and married robin. as he began his three-year residency at massachusetts general hospital, there were indications from the beginning that charles and psychiatry might not be the perfect fit. >> part of the residency is you are supposed to go to a weekly group therapy session and you didn't want to go. >> there were 12 of us. there was a group therapy once a week. i didn't go. i thought it was a pointless
exercise. i was called into the chief's office, after seven weeks of nonappearance. he said to me, why aren't you going to therapy. i said sir, i can't get there. he said to me, you are in denial. i said of course i'm in denial. denial is the greatest of all defense mechanisms. i can be a professor of denial. i'm an expert. i was going on and on. he wasn't amused. >> he gave him an ultimatum, go to group therapy or leave the program. >> i went the next 21 weeks or whatever it i didn't say a word. so, whatever people would notice that, why aren't you talking? i said because i'm in denial. i'm not a big therapy guy. >> was it because you didn't want somebody looking around your head? >> yes. i don't like to talk about myself, except with you, i guess. i'm not a touchy or feely guy.
that's probably why i quit psychiatry. >> so, in 1978, he took a government job in washington at what would become the national institute of mental health. it wasn't what he really wanted, but put him in the right neighborhood. >> i thought once i'm in washington, isn't that where they do politics? one thing would lead to another. >> his folks talked about their son tossing away a doctors livelihood, but didn't -- his wife became a painter and sculptor urged him to follow his dream. >> she encouraged me to follow my heart. with her whit, humor, generosity and spirit has co--authored my life. >> in a moment, his co-author helps him answer a higher calling.
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dozens more. tornadoes damaged businesses and knocked down power lines, and all power is now restored. good news for those of you that hit the roads this christmas. prices at the pump, the average price was $2.35. that is down 46 cents from this time last month. the most expensive gas continues to be in hawaii, where it's $3.57, and the cheapest price is in missouri, where it's just under 2 bucks. and then a church service in england. queen elizabeth ii and prince william and princess kate attended church. camellia was also a no show because of a back injury from earlier this month. we now go back to "a life
that matters." you are watching the most powerful name in news, fox news channel. charles krauthammer once wrote a column about the most important person of the 20th century. "time" magazine chose einstein, the great scientist. charles disagreed. he picked churchill, the indefensible statesman who led the fight against hitler and sounded the alarm over communism. politics trumping science. he traded a medical career to a one-way ticket to washington. why once here, his eyes locked on to a help wanted ad in a political opinion magazine, the new republic. >> i showed it to my wife. she said why don't you apply? >> i said i have never written anything. she said you write it, i'll hand
deliver it. >> he was looking for a managing editor for the left wing magazine. something in his application or phone call that made you want to bring him down? >> mainly the fact he was a psychiatrist. he had no writing samples. >> what did you see in him? >> i enjoyed talking to him so much, i had a feeling he must be able to write. >> he gave it a shot. as the saying goes, he wrote about what he knew. his first article, the expanding shrink. protesting how psychoanalysis was creeping into political discourse. for example, president carter's speech that blamed america's economy on the crisis of confidence. >> they liked it and published it. i got lucky, it was reposted on the op-ed page of the washington post. >> he wrote a few more pieces for the magazine and joined the
staff except he got a more intriguing offer as a speech writer for walter mondale. >> that lasted six months. when we got crushed in the general election, i got a call saying we think you are unemployed. would you like to work for us? i said yes, right away. the day reagan was sworn in, i starpted. >> so help me god. >> the new president was promising big changes, even starting the world anew. his inaugural signaled a clash of ideas. >> in this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. government is the problem. >> and the new republic was right in the midst of it. >> it was overwhelmingly liberal. the writers were the best of that era. i'm still a democrat at the time. traditional liberal democrat. i was hard line on it.
it's hard for people to believe now, but the democratic party had a very powerful wing. >> those democrats were a dying breed. he agreed more with president reagan than his liberal readers. i supported almost every element of the reagan policy. boy did we get reaction from the liberal group. >> what was his writing like? >> it's always been extremely step by step logical. if you can read a column about charles about something and you can still disagree with him, you know you have a good argument. >> the arguments conserved a columnist like buckley, wondering why krauthammer was
not supporting reagan's re-election in 1984. >> he was writing give up on the democrats. i was still one of those who wanted to save the soul of the democratic party and maintain his conservative element of which is magazine was. >> he fired off a letter, writing reagan still had a lot to answer for on foreign policy. his domestic policy was for. the catalog of sins we believe the president committed is too long for here. he privately wanted reagan to beat his old boss, walter mondale. >> i worked for mondale in 1980. i liked him and had respect for him. as a personal matter, it was a matter of honor. i didn't want to vote against the man for whom i had respect and affection. >> you have a vote, reagan or mondale? >> it's the only presidential election where i left that line
blank. >> left it blank? >> if i had been the swing vote, i would have voted for reagan. >> a turning point in krauthammer's transition from the political left to the political right. >> a few months after the election, i wrote something called the reagan doctrine. >> it was a "time" magazine document. he praised reagan on a number of foreign policy issues. he was not crediting him with a breakthrough insight that changed the calculus of the cold war. >> i realized this reagan had done without a plan was to challenge what, at the time, was this. that was when we take over the country, it's ours. all of a sudden, what reagan had done is challenge them to say no. you don't get to keep what you got. we are going to challenge your possession wherever they are. i thought this is a really good idea. i'm going to give it a name.
>> he invented the reagan doctrine, not reagan. now, everyone has to have a doctrine. >> even after reagan's 49 state landslide, krauthammer was not sure of what to make of reagan the man, who he met at the white house in 1986. >> he invited me to lunch. all of a sudden, what i'm hearing from him is a story about when he and nancy were in the guest house of president demard demarcos in the philippines. i don't get it. this is the most accessible president in my lifetime, he seems to be out to lunch. what's going on. >> it was later what alluded him about reagan. >> he had no need to show how smart he was. he knew what i was asking, he didn't want to talk about it.
he didn't care. >> it would be some time before krauthammer embraced a conservative domestic policy, taxes, welfare, small government and other reaganesque sins. >> it took me a decade. i was skeptical of tax cuts and smaller government. by the end of the '80s, i had a chance. as a doctor, i had been trained in evidence. if a treatment is killing your patients, you stop the treatment. i sort of, i moved gradually to the idea of a more limited society, smaller government. >> by that time, krauthammer's world was falling into place. in 1985, his son, daniel was born. two years later, he won the biggest honor in print journalism, the pulitzer prize. not bad for someone who started in the business a decade earlier without a writing sample. he went straight from the
ceremony to his father who worried about his son's jump from medicine to journalism. he was 84 and gravely ill. >> i went to the hospital where he was. i said i have something i want to give you. i gave him the medal. he beamed and showed it to all the nurses. >> it turned out to be his final visit with his dad. >> the last time i saw him was the time when this whole circle was closed and he could feel that the choice had been redeemed in some way. >> krauthammer called the 1990s a holiday from history. the cold war was won. the era of big government declared over and 9/11 brought a new urgency to his commentary. >> people understand there's a mix up between the weapons, these stakes and the terrorists and we have to attack them. >> krauthammer began appearing on special reports all-star
panels and was soon an audience favorite. >> a fixture on "special report" for a long time. still, a lot of people don't know that you are in a wheelchair. they don't know the extend of your paralysis. >> i'm sitting behind a table. it is true. i say to half the people i meet are surprised to see me in a wheelchair. >> what is apparent is krauthammer has the attention of people in high places. just one example? his opposition to harriet myers. not only helped block her nomination to the supreme court, a comment on the panel gave president bush a way out. >> i remember thinking how do i get out of this and it came to me while i was on "special report." >> his face saving solution went like this, because myers legal writings were covered by
executive privilege, they couldn't vet her. she had to withdrawal. >> three days later, that's what they did. >> are you surprised by the amount of influence that you have with your column with special report, that you hear or see things that happen as a result of a column or a statement? do you ever think about it? >> i think about it. i find it worrisome. the reason is what was totally unknown, i could say anything i pleased. >> coming up, power players and power hitters. from the all-star panel to the ballpark in eight minutes flat.
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the palm on 19th street, one of the legendary power scenes. you know you are lunching with a power player if his chair akture is on the wall. today, charles krauthammer is holding forth on the nuances. >> i know where this is going. >> not the political power of the white house ten blocks away. he's talking the washington nationals and whether they can power a late season playoff. >> finished 14-0. one game ahead of cincinnati. >> right. >> charles and i are both people who write about politics to support our baseball habits. fox news contributor george will has written two books on baseball. do you remember when you met him? >> i think it was 1982. he was done with "the new republic" and wrote a cover story on me.
we went to lunch and that's how we met. >> how long did it take before you were friends? >> i think instantaneous. five years later, i bought a new house and the first thing i did was build a wheelchair ramp for him to get in. >> you first talked baseball. when you dealt with the pornlt issues -- >> if there's time left over. i grew up playing the game. i love to play the game. as a kid, my brother and i would go around on our shwinns with transsister raid knows. this was our lives. >> since the nationals came to washington in 2005, they have had no bigger fans than charles krauthammer. >> when i started to do a show every night, it ends at 7:00 and the game starts at 7:10. the garage at fox is seven minutes, if the wind is fare
cruz filibuster. >> you want a breaking ball. it's slower. is he likely to throw a breaking ball, no. he's unlikely to steal now. >> turns out, nine innings with charles krauthammer is not just a day at the park. it's essentially grad school for baseball. >> okay. this is unfortunate. the only reason he's out, he's a back-up catcher and doesn't hit well. >> no, no, no, ahh. >> from time to time, charles writes about baseball, typically in a way that transcends the score. take his column about rick ankiel, a 21-year-old pitching phenom who was picked to start a playoff game with a huge national tv audience watching, he suddenly couldn't throw a
strike. he never pitched the same again. instead of quitting he went back down to the minors, learned a new position and returned to the majors as a hitter. the column is reprinted in his book "things that matter." it's in the personal section, a few pages after the peace about his brother, marcel. >> this is not really about you, but then your last line, the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, long term, fatal encounter, every life has such a moment. what distinguishes us is whether and how we ever come back. >> that's why the rick ankiel story resinated so much with me. i had my fatal encounter as did rick ankiel. there's an element of that in every story. do you want it enough and are you lucky enough. that's a part of it.
>> your book was supposed to be a selection of essays on things other than politics. it didn't turn out that way, why? >> all the things depend on getting politics right. you say science, art, poetry, baseball, and baseball must be bound >> he posed a simple question. we know that there are millions of habitable worlds out there. so, there have to be thousands, millions of civilizations. why have we never heard from any of them? the most-plausible explanation is that every time a civilization achieves consciousness to transcend signal sh they destroy them the question is, can we regulatg our politics in a way that willh allow human species to flourish
and produce all of the beautiful stuff? >> coming up, battling the president and taking on the tea party. fox news continues right after the break. if you're suffering from constipation or irregularity, powders may take days to work. for gentle overnight relief, try dulcolax laxative tablets. ducolax provides gentle overnight relief, unlike miralax that can take up to 3 days. dulcolax, for relief you can count on.
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sounds like a win win. guys! faster internet? i have never been on the internet and i am doing pretty well. does he even work here? don't listen to the naysayer. take the comcast business speed test. get faster speeds or more savings, or we'll give you $150. comcast business. built for business. it was january 2009. 30 years >> 30 years after charles krauthammer began his journalism career here in washington a new president was about to be sworn in but krauthammer wasn't sure what to make of barack obama. he got the chance to size him up at a dinner party. >> i remember before the president elect arrived saying i haven't been able to figure this
guy out. is he a lefty occasionally will throw a bone to the right? nobody had ideas. >> that was part of m obama's. he said same question. is he a lefty? nobody knew. >> do you think you've figured him out? >> i figured him out after that first state of the union speech. >> we will no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. >> tonight it will be the goal of the administration to ensure --. >> i was so tostonished i wrote five columns in a row on what kind of unusual political animal he was in giving an agenda as radical as any since fdr. he said i'm not here to tinker, i've come here to transform america. >> you've been tough on this
administration and president. >> i think he's done just about everything wrong. >> just as he's willing to offend fellow liberals in the 80s he's willing to take on conservatives, he believes are wrong. >> have you seen this mail some of the things you've said about ted cruz? i get e mails >> i know. i've seen the tweets. my assistant reads most of my mail. he's now in therapy. just kidding. >> the krauthammer on fox did not appreciate what cruz did. >> if he listened to talk rido it might send cruz over the edge. >> he was working for walter mondale. >> it's my job to call a folly a folly. you're betraying your life if you don't say what you think. >> do you think you'll ever start write something
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